Tuesday, March 7, 2017

ARC Review: The Deep End by Kristen Ashley

Series:     Honey #1
Pub. Date:March 7, 2017
Publisher:St. Martin's Griffin
Length:454 pages

I was nervous to read this book, I'm not gonna lie. If you follow my reviews and rambling, you will know that Kristen Ashley is my abso-favorite author, and I have proclaimed far and wide that I would read anything that she writes. But alpha subs? Sounded like an oxymoron to me, and I just didn't know how it could work. I'm not a big fan of femdomme trope, but I was willing to give it a shot. Now that I have read the first book - will I continue reading the series? Yes, yes I will. Let's discuss.

Mistress Amelie is a well-known and coveted domme at the Bee's Honey, a BDSM club operating in Phoenix. She is well-off, well-bred and well-disciplined. She has also gotten somewhat bored of the scene and is longing for more. Amelie wants it all - an alpha at home, a submissive pony in her stable, kids, family - the whole shebang. I admired Amelie's confidence and that she owned her sexuality and really didn't give flying fudge for what anyone else thought. I also liked that she didn't try to let her kink rule her life... there was a clear delineation between play and practicality. That being said, I did have a problem connecting to Amelie. As a reader who puts herself in the place of the heroine/main character - I just couldn't see myself as the dominatrix brushing down her pony. So when I can't relate, I usually have a hard time connecting. Others may not have this problem.

Olivier Hawkes is a 6'7", 240lb alpha male firefighter who is struggling with his sexuality. It seems that he tried to deny who he was and what he wanted for most of his life, but began dabbling in the scene a few months ago in an effort to settle his mind. I thought that the struggle Olly experienced with his submissive nature was interesting, but I wish it would have been expounded on a bit more. I liked that he had a friend to discuss matters with - and Barclay seemed like a cool person (and possibly future hero?). Olly was written as an alpha male, possessive and protective, but willing to take orders from his mistress. While I normally fall head over heels for Kristen's alphas... Olly just didn't do it for me. I couldn't see this big ass firefighter stabled like a pony. And let me make this clear - I don't think it was anything about the writing - but more life experience. No, I am not in the life. But when I lived in Tampa, Fetishcon was held every year in the hotel beside my office and the girls and I would sit in the hotel bar and people watch after work. It was some very interesting people watching, let me tell you. I saw lots of the pony peoples... and I just couldn't envision Olly in that regard no matter how hard I tried.

As Kristen has forayed into erotica, you can imagine that this story was sex over substance. There were a lot of very detailed and explicit sex scenes that really got into the nitty gritty of this specific kink. Not being familiar with pony play myself, I didn't always get the lingo or recognize equipment that was being used. I think the scenes were all well-researched and well-written, but the abundance of sex took away from the relationship building for me. I was missing that big emotional draw that I am used to from a Kristen Ashley romance. She usually draws me in with an ugly cry or identifiable heroine... but this time I kept reading out of sheer fascination. I did have a problem with one aspect of the scenes and that was Olly first setting his limits for play... and Amelie seemingly going against those limits. I think if she was going to push him in this regard, she should have explained that to him better instead of hanging him out there for everyone to see. I really felt bad for him given the struggle he was already having with his alpha mentality and submissive desire.

So why will I keep reading this series if I am not a femdomme fan? Well, Kristen has introduced a variety of interesting secondary characters! I really want to read the story of Brand, the seemingly tortured private investigator. I am also curious about the owner of The Honey, Aryas. Plus, this is Kristen Ashley and I have never read a story of hers that I did not like. While this one was not my favorite, it still held my attention in a different way. I am glad I read it, I just don't think it will go in my re-read pile.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, St. Martin's Griffin. I recommend this book to fans of erotica, femdomme or Kristen Ashley in general.

About the Author

Kristin Ashley - headshot
Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA and nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessories and she hadn't taken her first breath!). Her mother said they took Kristen away, put her Mom back in her room, her mother looked out the window, and Gary was on fire (Dr. King had been assassinated four days before). Kristen's Mom remembered thinking it was the end of the world. Quite the dramatic beginning. Nothing's changed. Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana and has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus, she's blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her family was (is) loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. They all lived together on a very small farm in a small farm town in the heartland. She grew up with Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched). Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up. And as she keeps growing, it keeps getting better.

Honey Series

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